India v West Indies, 3rd ODI, Ahmedabad December 5, 2011

Sammy rolls back the years

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies in Ahmedabad

The surprise outswingers

In his opening spell, Umesh Yadav - hitherto known for his lively pace - showed a new dimension to his bowling. In his second over, he pitched the ball right up to Danza Hyatt, and got it to curl menacingly in the air and square up the batsman. In his next over, Yadav repeated the dose to Marlon Samuels, as the ball snaked in towards leg stump before straightening alarmingly. Both deliveries were clocked at less than 120 kph, but they weren't slower balls or cutters. They were genuine outswingers delivered with a loose, upright wrist and perfect seam position, reminiscent of Irfan Pathan in his pomp.

The clumsy collision

Danza Hyatt got one on his pads in the ninth over, and duly clipped it through the leg side. Ravindra Jadeja at midwicket and Gautam Gambhir at mid-on converged to chase the ball as it sped away towards the boundary. Normally, one of the two would have fallen back, allowing the other to slide and scoop the ball back to him. This time, however, neither seemed keen to back off. Jadeja, who was marginally ahead, put in the slide and came up in one smooth motion, ready to throw, only to see Gambhir run straight into him. The fielders shared a smile on the way back to their fielding positions.

The cat-and-mouse game

West Indies' slog-fest was only beginning as Vinay Kumar ran in to bowl at Andre Russell in the 47th over. Russell tried to scramble Vinay's lines by prancing across his stumps early, before going back to his natural stance as Vinay got into his delivery stride. Vinay tried to go one better with his variations, and attempted a slower ball, but the execution was all awry. The ball was dropped very short, almost outside the tramlines on the edge of the pitch, and went through at 85.5 kph - a speed the offspinner R Ashwin exceeded regularly during his spell.

The blasts from the past

The current West Indies side may not have the innate flair of its predecessors from the 1970s and 80s, but for a fleeting couple of moments in the 49th over, Darren Sammy transformed into one of those immortal Caribbean charmers. Abhimanyu Mithun delivered a length ball wide of off stump, and Sammy moved across emphatically before levering it on the up with an astoundingly loose grip to pick up six over the covers. The next ball was a high full toss on the hips, and Sammy's response was even more audacious. He stayed in the crease side on, and swished the bat in a clean circular arc to send the ball disappearing over midwicket. It wasn't quite Viv Richards smashing Mike Hendrick, but it was not a bad imitation.

The opening blow

Rohit Sharma has now made six half-centuries in eight outings against West Indies this year, and has developed enough familiarity with the attack to routinely open his account with a six. In the previous game, he started off by slamming a bouncer over the square leg boundary. His first runs today came in even more classy fashion. He leaned out languidly to a flighted ball from Sunil Narine, got close enough to the flight to negate his mystery variations, and lofted inside out to pick up six over extra cover.

The redemption

Life came a full circle for Sammy at Motera, and then some more. After his batting heroics and the early wickets, he once again slipped into a defensive approach to allow Rohit and R Ashwin build a partnership with singles and twos. To make matters worse, Sammy handed India needless lifelines by dropping both batsmen in quick succession. Rohit cashed in to move towards a fighting century, when Sammy got a shot at redemption. On 95, Rohit pushed a ball to Sammy at mid-on and hurried across for a tight single. Sammy swooped on the ball and hurled down the stumps on the full with a powerful throw that caught Rohit well short. Sammy reacted with a roar and a pumping of the fists that conveyed the sort of pressure he was under, before breaking into a smile that signalled welcome relief.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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